Galship

As RevGalBlogPals embarks on new and exciting adventures, we’re having a weekly blog carnival during the month of July. This week’s question asks “What does Galship mean to you?”

In short, it’s a somewhat whimsical way of describing what it’s like to be part of a group of faithful women, an alternative to the more familiar word “fellowship.” But the depth and breadth of friendship that came into my life because of RevGalBlogPals isn’t whimsical at all.

Ten years ago, I was a lonely small church pastor with three children at home, and although I loved them with all my heart, I found living my dream of finally being a pastor, while also fulfilling my deep commitment to be a good mom, to be challenging. I looked among my local colleagues and couldn’t find anyone else willing to admit what seemed so obvious to me, and I felt even more isolated. Then I discovered blogs. I started one, and I started reading other people’s blogs, and in the winter of 2004-2005, a group of friends began to coalesce.

When one of them, St. Casserole, was threatened by Hurricane Katrina, I realized I had a heart full of genuine love for someone I had never met, whose real name I did not know; when I learned from her blog about the aftermath of the storm, my heart began to burn with a desire to help. Being unconvinced of my usefulness, I held back until I read on her blog that the Gulf Coast needed preachers to provide respite for pastors there who were recovering and rebuilding. So I got on a plane and finally met the dear friend whose name by then I knew. Over the past eight years, she has been a source of wisdom and guidance and fun, too. When we talk on the phone, I know we start from many important foundations together, as Southern women with those kinds of stories, as moms, as animal lovers, and as women of faith who feel called to serve God.

St. Casserole and yours truly on my second Gulf Coast trip.
St. Casserole and yours truly on my second Gulf Coast trip, posed in her grotto.

The thing our galship connection gave me most was courage. I took a risk and got on a plane and went to the Gulf Coast, to be collected by a beloved friend I had never met, whose face I hoped I would recognize even though I had never seen so much as a photograph of her. She promised to wear a RevGalBlogPals t-shirt under her jacket, but as soon as I saw her beaming smile, I knew her.

We’ve had many opportunities to be together since then. I returned to the Gulf Coast four more times and preached in her church. When my life took a turn in unexpected directions, she sat in the place of my daddy in the eyes of my intended. When she came to our wedding, she put her own pearls around my daughter’s neck. We are friends and colleagues and sisters. I thank God for our friendship and all the other connections that could be mapped from those first days of blogging, a web of love and support and hilarity and faith that supports all the useful things I am able to do on behalf of Jesus Christ.

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20 thoughts on “Galship

  1. St. Casserole, you and a few others were among the first RGBPs I met… via the wonders of Google, I found ‘women pastors’ and it’s been golden! Bless you!

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  2. I love this story.

    Some years after I had started blogging — back when it was anonymous and wonderful little online communities of people who didn’t know one another’s real names were springing up — I was about to reveal my little secret to my hometown group of women friends at a regular Saturday breakfast when one of them said that she’d heard about blogging and considered it to be a form of navel-gazing. So I didn’t tell her, or anyone else at the time. Yours is one of the all-time best stories to counteract that viewpoint.

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  3. love. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story again and again–I so appreciate it! The ways we look out for each other, care for one another, and offer grace are so fab. You’ve captured it beautifully.

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  4. Sally Lodge Teel

    Oh, so sweet. My life changed in wonderful ways when Martha reached out to me after Katrina. RevGals opened up my world to include so many wonderful clergy women and friends. Looking at the Grotto picture is fun. I’d forgotten we took pics with our new cameras then. love you, mean it.

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